Mayor’s Journal
June 7th, 2010
Beyond the poor attraction of the special love relationship, and always obscured by it, is the powerful attraction of the Father for His Son. There is no other love that can satisfy you, because there is no other love.” T.15.VII.1.1-2

I opened our beloved blue book this morning at a random page and this is the phrase that jumped out at me. I just love it anytime Jesus mentions this ‘powerful attraction’, like when he talks about the one of ‘love for Love’. I hadn’t realized that he had used these precise same words twice in the book. And then the wonderful, no-exceptions ‘there is no other love’. Well, isn’t that just how we all feel daily? No? Uh, perhaps not. You, maybe. But not usually me. Typically there seem to be so many other things I will come to love during the course of a day, some of them planned (espresso!), and some of them not (a check in the mail, a successful meal that I cooked – now that is a surprise!). And this got me thinking that the way I lead my day is in fact purely from one special relationship to another.

sunriseThe ‘me’ I think I am is always relating to something ‘outside of me’. Now, that relationship is always one of trying to bring something into my life because I think it is good for me or brings me pleasure. These these are all my special love relationships, I figure. And then there are those things during the day I will try to avoid because I esteem them as affecting me negatively, such as avoiding a particular neighbor, or putting off doing the taxes - my special hate relationships. An endless series of things to do or to avoid purely to guarantee some extremely tenuous sense of ‘well-being' for this individual I still perceive myself to be. Phew! What a lot of work, and according to Jesus, all for nothing!

The essence of the separated state is one of guilt and lack, and these fill the mind so completely that every thought during the day will be one of using and manipulating the outside world either to feel better (special love relationships) or to avoid feeling worse (special hate relationships). In reality, of course, only one relationship is possible, as Jesus tells us above. That relationship is the one not with illusions and delusions, but with our Source, our heavenly Father. Once this holy relationship is brought back into the mind, the need for such special love and hate objects evaporate, since we no longer feel a lack that we seek to fill, or guilt that we then project onto the world around us.

What I love about this is how the ego is so total: we can’t pretend to not be dominated by it. We will live our lives today as a series of special love and hate relationships – that’s a given. So why feel guilty about what we know we’re going to do anyway? The Monk has been helping me learn this lesson for a year now, and it has been sooo useful. It’s not about avoiding the ego or trying not to be filled with ego. It’s about looking at being filled with the ego from the moment I brush my teeth in the morning, till the moment I tuck myself into bed at night – and learning to look upon this with the love of Jesus as my guide. In His sight there is no judgment; there is no guilt. It’s all just a mistake, nothing more. And a mistake is a mistake is a mistake. And will never be a sin or a crime worthy of condemnation or punishment.


Please note that acimpunk is quietly resting in a field of sunflowers (hemp?) where he is waiting for us to come join him. Also, note Lisi’s nightime consciousness is helping us understand it’s not about trying to be a ‘good person’. And Nina is jumping up and down for a good reason. Also, some loving thoughts from Lawrence (helped by Neil Diamond – okay, I’m to blame), and Annie.

So, let’s have a day today of knowing that whatever we think we need or could do without, a wonderful presence lies just beyond our sight that would take all the stress out of that busyness.

Love you all, Bernard

Mayor’s Journal
June 8th, 2010
This morning I found on my computer two questions by Villagers about our home nestled between the Rightmind Hills that I’d like to talk about here. The first question was about the use of silliness, laughter and non-acim symbols. I’m glad the question came up because it gives us a chance to re-visit this subject. The Village is starting to exist in its own right (not just as a result of events at the Monastery), and together we need start to form a culture that conforms to the needs of everyone, and respects everyone’s desires.

sunrise You see, I'm really not against silliness, as such. If anything, I like a bit of laughter and humour. It has just been a question of guiding us all to focus on the real purpose of our being together. It's difficult to maintain that line when at heart none of us are purely and uniquely philosophers but also human beings who like to laugh and smile when we are together, as one does when amongst friends and loved ones. I love to think seriously, to ponder on (non-) existence and eternal Love, and also to laugh and smile. When face-to-face, it's easy to slide from one to the other naturally. Over the internet, we have to write it all out. That's where the 'danger' is.

We are a pretty heterogeneous group of students, really. Some of us like to use images and symbols that come more directly from the imagination, and others prefer a more studious atmosphere in which the focus is implicitly and explicitly on applying our spirituality and sharing our experiences doing so. The question is how to provide a village space in which both types of students feel comfortable and truly at home. If there is excessive gaiety and too many imaginative (non-acim) symbols, then some people are quite likely to feel simply 'not at home'. While I do not want these people to feel excluded, it would be a pity if the other type of student did. As we saw at the Monastery, it can be a bit of a challenge marrying the two different atmospheres. It doesn't mean we can't, but in the birthing phase of the Village I did want to be a bit careful. So there has been some emphasis on keeping the use of laughter and non-acim talk/stories to a minimum.

sunrise In all honesty, I can't say I know how to find or encourage this balance. Perhaps because 'I' can't do it. It is something that must come naturally out of the participation of the Villagers. Can we leave a message with everyone, ponderers and on-lookers alike (who are sometimes numerous), that we are devoted to our chosen spirituality, even though we sometimes use laughter to help each other in the lightest way possible get through an otherwise ego-dominated day/world? We can only ask them for understanding and patience (and forgiveness) as we work our way toward finding our own balance here, one between excessive silliness and distracting playfulness on the one hand, and exclusive stony-faced sobriety on the other. Perhaps we all need to learn to smile and break up the seriousness on our faces with some gentle laughter and humor, but not in a way that becomes the focus of our communication and participation. A Buddhist monk’s face is creased with smile marks. Smiling is not his specific goal; it's just a natural outcome of his inner work. How can we learn to 'smile' when we write without smiling becoming the objective?

Does anyone have any other thoughts on this matter?

The second question I have been asked, and it is not the first time, is about following the different topics here brought up by ponderers and the Mayor, which is the question about ‘threads’ and discussion pages. We do not have threads here because I preferred the more informal nature of run-on dialogue. This was compensated for by ‘pages’, where someone interested in a particular topic would just go to that page to post a comment. The disadvantage of that system was the proliferation of pages in which participants found themselves zapping tons of pages to get to the comments that interested them. So I took off the comments on certain pages in order to encourage everyone to keep their ponderings to two or three main pages. But this doesn’t allow someone to comment directly on the subject that interests her/him. Sooooo…..

I’m going to try yet another model. I’ll group all the entries of the Mayor’s Journal by week, so that there will be a separate blog page with comments for each week of entries. This will keep the number of pages to a minimum, and provide a separate place for people who would like to comment specifically on that comment. How’s that sound, everyone?

Other Village business:
Ninjanun is here!!! Welcome, Village-sister! So glad you could stop by. It seems you’re having similar connection problems to Ruth-Anne. I can’t figure out what might be going wrong for you two, if the problem doesn’t happen with other sites. My connection went through a phase like that, to the point where I would systematically save and copy all my comments before hitting the submit button, so I could just copy and past them if they got trashed.

Lawrence picked this up from Lisi’s post the other day, and it’s worth repeating: You are something greater and More precious than The best person in the world. You are not a person. You are the Christ. And in that recognition All your struggling ceases, You cease to speak.

Pam would like Kaitlyn (Lawrence’s daughter) to know that she is welcome to stop by the Village for a cup of tea and to be warmed by the fire anytime she wishes.

And if there is any doubt, I would like you all to know that we have a number of devoted Villagers who are actively participating here as “silent witnesses” (a lovely Buddhist term). Their thoughts are with us. Their contribution is being made and we can hear their silent, gentle presence if we put an ear to the ground in the corn-field by the old mill, or alternatively to the wall of the chapel at the northern gate early of a morning when all the world is quiet and still. Our thoughts and blessings are with you, too. We join in your quiet reflection even in the busyness of our lives.

Have a great day, One and All,
Much love,

Village Bulletin Board: An anonymous Villager left these words on the bulletin board in the market place this afternoon. They were spotted by the baker who told the cobbler who passed the message on to the… I think the thoughts are related to laughter, but that’s just my guess.

Silence is the grand hall in which our laughter and thoughts
Play their melody,
Reaching back toward the stillness.

Within the noise,
Amongst the traffic and crowds,
Throughout the interminable meeting,
And waiting in those long, long lines,
The gentle Smile looks on.

Silence waits only for a quiet mind to be heard,
Not for the absence of sound.

Silence within sound.
Stillness within laughter.
Always, quiet.

Laughter is the background music played in the halls of stillness.

Every sound holds stillness within it,
Smiling quietly.

When the last thought of separation is undone,
When all the universe disappears into Light,
When the stars become One and the day never ends,
There shall be that smile.

sunrise Village Bulletin Board:
June 9th, 2010
The Mayor wonders if anyone would be willing to share his/her daily "hallucination". Someone amongst the Villagers today had the perception at one moment or another that someone else in his/her life was the problem. And this Villager's first thought was, "If only he/she would just ..., all would be so much better!" As in, "If only she would stop talking so loudly on her mobile phone, I would feel so much more peaceful..." If that Villager happens to be you ('fess up!), then perhaps you would like to take a moment and share your event (briefly) AND the reversal of that thought (of course! Otherwise, what's the point??). Perhaps the Forgiveness page? Or the Fireside page if you want to be more informal and munch a scone at the same time.

Other news:
An event in Pam's life yesterday has us wondering about bringing a healing interpretation to certain outside events. Laura the not-so-toddler-student had a great suggestion. Also, counting down till the 16th and the beginning of Lawrence's retreat.

Villager Contribution
June 10th, 2010
Pam wrote us a follow-up to her experience with the explosion across the street that I thought was sooo on the money, I've included it here. For me it just captures the essence of this "extraordinary absence" of anything special we are trying to invite into our lives. Enjoy!

Thanks for the feed back everyone. The drama across the highway is still going on. The State Patrol helicopter just got done circling the site about 10 times then landed in the pasture. FBI agents were there yesterday and I am assuming today also. He was making illegal fireworks. A federal offense. the world is screaming “This is not an ordinary day! Pay attention! Get all worked up about this!” A steady stream of Gawkers goes by. People have called asking me Questions. (The neighbor had the same last name as I. So there is the woo factor)

Here I am observing from my “front row seat” feeling ordinary, doing ordinary dishes,looking out the ordinary window above the sink at their ordinary house with ordinary trees and yard with ordinary people doing their ordinary jobs of sifting through ordinary explosion debris. Then I go feed ordinary kittens…….Ordinary words can’t describe how extra-ordinarily ordinary of a “feeling space” I am in.

Thanks, Pam. One more thing, just a thought on the subject of laughter... I know there is a temptation to think that lightness and fun have taken a bad rap over the past few months, but if I could reassure you that I know personally a certain monk who believes greatly in the healing power of laughter. His own gentle laugh is healing in itself, and a smile rarely leaves his face (I can attest). So let's not give ourselves a hard time if we find the edges of our faces creasing upwards and a chuckle bubbling in the depths of our hearts. The whole Sonship laughs with us. Only a smile is then seen, written on all things.

Mayoral Declaration: A day of ice-cream therapy in the Village
Guess I don't need to say too much about this! *
Just remember, if you're eating by the Fireside, eat quickly!
I just want to send a big hug to the whole Village today.
Hugs to Lawrence, Nina, Pam, Annie, Lisi, Katrina, Anil, Laura, Acimpunk, Kendall, Ruth-Anne, Ninjanun, Winnie (yoo-hoo!)...
And also to Al, Hedda, Sally, Zenbear, Zafu, Bev, Gail, Sarah, Murrill,
As well as to the silent, meditative observers all over the world who are in our thoughts.
Much love, Bernard
P.S. Just love this photo with the chocolate sauce dripping over the sides... (yum)

* I will add, however, this line from an early workbook lesson: "My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world." Jesus did not say, "My 'bad' thoughts are showing me a meaningless world." They are just meaningless - no value judgment anywhere about what's going through our minds. So we don't have to add a judgment where this isn't one. He also didn't say that our thoughts were showing us a bad world, which we might be tempted to think. Again, it is just a meaningless world. It makes, and has, no real sense, no matter what images play themselves in front of us today.

We are completely free to have all the thoughts we wish: passionate, ugly, desirous, violent, apathetic, melancholic... It is the most freeing gift that Jesus gives us - it doesn't matter what goes through our minds. None of these thoughts has any meaning or significance, and we can peacefully observe them in all their strange pyrotechnical display. They do not mean anything - anything - about us. We are free from any interpretation: we are not good, bad, unworthy, sinful, or otherwise, as a result of what's in our minds. They are just silly thoughts, all of them, whether it's a desire to attack or eat a yummy ice cream. It's just that eating a hot chocolate fudge sundae is a little more socially acceptable (per se) than hitting your work colleague over the head with your notebook. :-)

sunrise Village Bulletin Board:
I would like to remind everyone at the Village, those who actively participate, and those who silently participate (just as important), that the Mayor is available for one-on-one discussion about any of the issues brought up at the Village. If there is any hesitation to express yourself in this public forum (which can be understandable), then please don't hesitate to make contact with me. I exchange emails and Skype calls with a number of Villagers on different subjects, and this can be an effective way of continuing our learning in a less exposed setting. So join me, and join in, if there is something on your mind; please don't let the open discussion format prevent you from sharing your thoughts and needs for further input. I'll add that this is definitely not spiritual counseling (please see the Monk on the Monastery page), but a continuation of the informality of the discussion group, but in a more private setting.

The Village Hall Hotlines:
Skype: acimvillagemayor